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Crime And Punishment In The Elizabethan Era

1957 words - 8 pages

Crime and Punishment in the Elizabethan Era

In February, 1587, Queen Elizabeth had ordered her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scotts, to her execution to eliminate all possibilities of any threats to her throne. This event would reflect the relentless violence and unforgiving punishments of the judicial system in Elizabethan Era. Criminals during Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England, known as the Elizabethan Era, were subject to harsh, violent punishments for their crimes. England was separated into two social classes, which were the nobility, and the commoners. Within each class, the punishments were defined by the class and type of crime that had been committed. Under the Tudor rule, the punishments dating back to the middle ages were revived. Such gruesome punishments were carried out to strike fear into the hearts of the English citizens and lower crime rate. There were a wide range of crimes that a person could be prosecuted for, and even included the act of witchcraft and alchemy. Of course, today the American court system would find prosecutions of witchcraft and alchemy ridiculous. However, in the Elizabethan Era, people accused of even the most petty of crimes would be immediately placed in prison to await their sentences, often resulting in death. Public executions were a common practice, and were often a form of entertainment for a crowd of spectators. Often considered as the “Golden Age” in English history, England’s court systems became an essential part of society because cruel punishments were severe enough to strike fear into English citizens as well as demonstrating the influence and power of Queen Elizabeth’s rule.

The court system was used by Queen Elizabeth to display her power. There were three

categories in the court system. The people who were in these three categories were allowed to serve the queen. The courts consisted of a “...collection of privileged people serving the Queen – the members of the Privy Chamber, Royal Household and the Privy Council.” ( “The Elizabethan Court” ). Based on this piece of evidence, the court was made up of three sections: the Privy Chamber, Royal Household, and the Privy Council. The people who were a part of these categories were allowed by the queen to serve her. This means that not everybody was allowed to be a part of these parts of the court. This connects to the idea that the court system was the way Queen Elizabeth used to display her power because she allowed certain people to be a part of the court system.

There were many requirements to become a part of the court system. During the Elizabethan era, people who had an interest to become a part of the court system had to fulfill many requirements. One of her expectations was “... to be courted in the courtly love tradition, in which she was the available, but ultimately unobtainable, lady they wished to woo” ( “Court Life” ). This information says that Queen Elizabeth I expected men to treat her with love to be a part of the...

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